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Full text of "The Battle of Fredericksburg : an address before the Association of the Virginia Division of the Army of Northern Virginia, at Richmond, Va., on Thursday evening, November 1, 1883"

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Published by order of the Association. 





Annual Reunion of the Virginia Division Arniy Northern Vir- 
ginia Association. 

A brilliant audience crowded the State Capitol at Richmond on the evening of 
November 1st, to hear the address of General A. M. Scales, of North Carolina, 
before the Virginia Division of the Army of Northern Virginia Association. 

After prayer by the Chaplain, Dr. J. Wm, Jones, the President of the Associa- - 
tion (General W. H. F. Lee) made an eloquent and very felicitous address of 
welcome, and gracefully introduced " the gallant soldier who won his spurs in 
Virginia, and whose splendid brigade did much to make the glorious history of 
the Army of Northern Virginia, and win the imperishable fame of the soldiers of 
the old North State, whose blood enriched every battle-field in Virginia, and' 
whose bodies sleep in every vale and on every hill side." 

Resolution unanimous! y adopted by the Army Northern Virginia 
Association : 

Resolved, That the thanks of the Association be tendered General Scales for his 
able and eloquent address, and that he be requested to furnish a copy for publi- 


jjjAPiE-3 and Gentlemen, Friends and Comrades : 

We meet to-night to re-light oar camp fires, to fight our battles 
over again, to renew the friendships formed in the hour of trial, and 
for the still nobler purpose of perpetuating the high deeds and sacred 
memories of our fallen comrades. I am deeply sensible of the occasion, 
and if I fall below its just demands, you will doubtless extend to me 
that indulgence which is always given to sincere effort and ear- 
nest purpose. 

I speak to-night of Fredericksburg. I shall necessarily repeat 
much that has been said in the official and other reports, by men who 
were on the spot and witnessed what they wrote; sometimes, when it 
suits my purpose better, using the identical language. 

General Joseph E. Johnson, after distinguished services at Manassas, 
Williamsburg and Seven Pines, fell painfully wounded at Fair Oaks, 
on the 1st day of June, 1862. He had deservedly secured the confi- 
dence and affection of the country, as well as of his own soldiers, and 
his fall, though temporary, cast a shadow of gloom over the Confed- 
eracy. The emergency was pressing — McClellanwas by degrees ap- 
proaching Eichmond. General R. E. Lee, by an order of the Presi- 
dent, assumed the command of the Army of Northern Virginia, on 
the 3d day of June, 1862. The battles of Mechanicsville, of the 
Chickahominy, of Savage Station, of Frazier's Farm and Malvern 
Hill, had been fought, and Lee and Jackson, and the Army of 
Northern Virginia, had become immortal. MeClellan, with an army 
of 156,838 men — 115,102 of which were efficient, well organized, well 
equipped, and confident, not to say insolent, had been hurled back, 
broken and shattered, to take shelter under their gun boats, and 
Richmond, the devoted capitol ot the Confederacv, around which so 
many hearts clustered, invoking upon her the protection of the pa- 
triot's God, was again iree. The Confederates did not number more 
than 100,000 men. The theatre of war was changed ; Cedar Run, 
second Manassas, and Oxen Hill, had shed new lustre upon Southern 
genius and Southern valor. The Confederacy was again triumphant, 
and Pope, with headquarters in the saddle, had been driven hopeless and 
helpless to a safe refuge under the very walls of Washington, never 
more, so far as I am advised, to meet a rebel foe. He was not 
wounded ; he did not die ; but he was translated to look after the In- 
dians on the plains. 

JJetween the 25th of August, and the 2d of September, 1862, the 
Confederates had lost, between the Rappahannock and the Potomac, 

9,112 men in killed, wounded and missing, including Ewell, Field, 
Taliaferro and Trimble, seriously wounded. The Federal losses were 
30,000 men, 8 generals slain, 7,000 prisoners, 2,000 wounded in the 
hands of the Confederates, 30 pieces of cannon, more than 20,000 
rifles, many ensigns, and an immense quantity of war material in the 
hands of General Lee, without estimating the vast amount destroyed 
by Jackson at Manassas. Again, the theatre of war was changed ; 
Harpers Ferry was captured, Maryland was invaded, and Sharpsburg 
was fought, and McClellan claimed the victory,. Is the claim well 
founded ? We are content with the facts. 

Lee had about 35,000 fighting men, and of this number the troops 
of Jackson, MacLaws and Walker, in all 14,000 men were not on the 
ground when the battle commenced. McClellan had about 87,000 
well fed, well clothed, and well equipped men. The Confederate loss 
was 8,790 killed and wounded. The Federal loss was 12,469 killed 
and wounded, and among them 13 general officers. McClellan made the 
attack with the view to overwhelm and destroy Lee's army, and 
was repulsed. On the night of the 17th of September, 1862, 
after the battle was ended, the Confederate general held the same 
position that he had in the morning. On the 18th of September, his 
position was unchanged, awaiting a renewal of the attack. McClellan 
dared not risk another encounter, but waited for re-inforcements. 
On the night of the 18th, Lee crossed the Potomac, and by 11 o'clock 
on the 19th of September, his whole army was in Yirginia, carrying 
with him all the provisions, and everything of value obtained in 
Maryland. He carried with him also, the immense fruits resulting 
from the capture of Harpers Ferry, to wit: 11,000 prisoners, and 73 
cannons, 13,000 rifles and other arms, 200 wagons of stores, ammu- 
nition, &c. — our loss almost nothing. The invasion of Maryland was 
terminated. Lee was checked and had to return to Virginia. 
McClellan was repulsed all along the line ; 35,255 men held their 
position all the day of the 17th, and all the next day, against 87,000 
men, and McClellan himself confesses: " I found that my loss had 
been so great, and there was so much disorganization in some of the 
commands, that I did not consider it proper to renew the attack the 
next day." McClellan had attacked an army scarce one-third of his 
own, and been repulsed with a loss one-third greater than his ad- 
versary ; if such was a victory for the Northern Army let them enjoy 
it. A feeble attempt at pursuit was made by Porter's corps, which 
had been held in reserve; he reached the river after the Confederates 
had crossed, he threw a large force across the river, and captured four 
cannon, but he was, in turn, driven back by Hill into the river, losing 
200 prisoners and sustaining a loss, in the aggregate, of 3,000 men 
against a Confederate loss of 261 men. 

Since the 25th of June, the Army of Northern Yirginia had marched 
over 280 miles, often without shoes, with half rations, and badly 
ciad; had fought twelve pitched battles, and many conflicts ; had met 
and defeated three armies, inflicting upon the enemy a loss of 76,000 

men, of whom 30,000 were prisoners, taking 155 guns, 70,000 rifles, 
and taking and destroying near a million dollars worth of war ma- 
terial, provisions, &c, &c. Lee retired with his brave but wearied 
men to "Winchester. They needed clothes and shoes — they required 
wholesome food and enough otit. Such an exhibition of courage, calm 
and steady, of patriotism that burned all the brighter in their sacri- 
fices and sufferings, had excited the admiration of Europe, and made 
a page in the world's history the most brilliant and the most honora- 
ble. They thought not of their privations, they marched and fought, 
and their step was the prouder and their arms the stronger and their 
hearts the bolder as they remembered that these sacrifices were the 
price to be paid for equal rights under the Constitution. They are 
now in the far-famed Valley of Virginia, which fed both armies, but 
whose people were so true to their South-land that, though greatly 
impoverished, always, even to the end, cheerfully divided with the 
Southern soldier what they had left. The air was pure, food was 
abundant, the naked were clothed and shod, and the rest of the sol- 
dier was sweet. The army was recruited in strength, health, hope, 
and numbers. 

In a few days 30,000 men had been added to the army of North- 
ern Virginia. McClellan was in front. His army, too, after so many 
severe conflicts and losses, needed rest, and he was in no haste to be- 
gin again hostilities. But McClellan was not suffered to remain long 
inactive. Eichmond must be destroyed, and he was forced to move 
in that direction. On October 6th, McClellan had received a telegram 
from Lincoln embracing the following order : "Cross the Potomac 
and give battle to the enemy or drive him southward." He de- 
termined to cross the f Potomac east of the Blue Pudge, and place him- 
self between Lee and Richmond. 

On the 26th of October the Federal army commenced to cross the 
Potomac at Berlin, five miles below Harper's Ferry, and by the 2d of 
November the entire army was on the Southern side. Lee was still 
in the Shenandoah Valley. As soon as he learned of the movement 
of IVJcClellan, he at once divined its purpose, broke up his camp on 
the banks of .the Opequan, and moved on a parallell line with the 
enemy. A division from Longstreet was sent to Upperville to be 
near and watch the movements of the enemy. Jackson was between 
Berryville and Charlestown, to guard the passes of the mountain, as 
well as the route to Harper's Ferry. It became evident by the 
last of October that the Federal forces were marching in the direc- 
tion of Warrenton, and Lee at once ordered Longstreet with his en- 
tire corps to Culpepper Court House, which he reached on the 3d of 
November. Jackson was still at Mill Wood, but sent one division 
east of the Blue Ridge. The Federals, by degrees, were concentrating 
at Warrenton. 

This was the position of the two armies, and while Lee was 
anxiously and carefully watching the developments of the com- 
ing campaign, a sensation was produced on both sides of the 

Potomac by the recall of McClellan, and the appointment as chief in 
command of his army conferred on Burnside. McClellan was the 
ablest officer that ever was in charge of the Army of the Potomac — 
perhaps the ablest, as a whole, developed by the war on the Northern 
side, with, it may be, one exception, Gen. Thomas, if, indeed, he was an 
exception ; on this point, to say the least, intelligent sentiment is much 
divided. In addition to his ability as an officer, his character as a man 
was unexceptionable. He fully recognized the alleged object of the 
war, and, in the prosecution of it, he was high-toned, honorable, and 
humane. When asked by Mr. Lincoln his views as to* the conduct of the 
war he replied : 

"This rebellion has assumed the character of a war; as such it 
should be regarded, and it should be conducted upon the highest 
principles known to christian civilization. It should not be a war 
looking to the subjection of any State in any event, it should not, be 
a*t all a war upon population, but against armed forces and political 
organizations. Neither confiscations of property, political executions, 
territorial organizations of States, nor forcible abolition of slavery, 
should be contemplated for a moment. * * * All private prop- 
erty and unarmed persons should be strictly protected, subject only 
to the necessity of military operations. All private property taken 
for military uses should be paid or receipted for; pillage and waste 
should be treated as high crimes. * * * A system of policy like 
this, and pervaded by the influences of Christianity and freedom would 
receive the support of all truly loyal men, would deeply impress the 
rebel masses and all foreign states, and it might be humbly hoped 
commend itself to the favor of the Almighty." 

Such a recognition of the claims of humanity, national law and 
religion, to say nothing of the constitution, in a fierce civil war, will 
be handed down to remote generations, as worthy of all honor, shin- 
ing the more conspicuously because it had no counterpart among the 
other officers of the United States in all that war. It iound a counter- 
part in the uniform conduct of General Lee, and voiced itself in the gen- 
eral order issued by him to regulate the conduct of his troops as he ad- 
vanced through Maryland into Pennsj'lvaniatoGettysburg. Hear him! 
"The commanding general considers that no greater disgrace could be- 
fall the army, and through it our whole people, than the perpetration 
of the barbarous outrages upon the innocent and defenceless, and the 
wanton destruction of private property that has marked the course of 
the enemy in our own country. Such proceedings not only disgrace 
the perpetrators and all connected with them, but is subversive of 
the discipline and efficiency of the army and destruction of the ends 
of our present movement. It must be remembered that we make 
war only xvpon armed men, and that we cannot take vengeance for the 
wrongs our people have suffered without covering ourselves with shame 
in the eyes of all whose abhor ance has been excited by the atrocities of 
our enemy, and offending against him to whom vengeance belongeth, 
without whose favor and support our efforts must all prove in vain." 

These two men had written their names high and indelibly as 
warriors on the roll of fame. The one, McClellan, on his side had 
no superior, the other, General Lee, had no equal on either side. 
They now add to their well earned fame, sentiments worthy of the 
highest humanity, and the best civilization of mankind. McClelland 
was removed. "Words such as these awakened no response in the 
hearts of those who directed the war at Washington. He fell a vic- 
tim to his noble sentiments, and the petty political jealousies and per- 
sonal envy of his own administration. 

Lee's sentiments were in perfect harmony with his life. He was 
honored more each day, as each day developed some new feature of 
greatness and goodness which excited the admiration of mankind, 
and bound to him in ties, that death could not sever, the personal 
affection of each and all of his soldiers. After the fights around 
Richmond, there was not a good man in the army that would not 
have gladly put in jeopardy his own life to preserve that of his 
leader. I remember well the effect of this order upon the army; 
they knew what he did was right, but I am sure I am in the bounds 
bounds of truth when I say that it not only commanded the ap- 
proval, but excited the pride of the army, and there was not one 
heart that did not inwardly feel that he was as good as he was great. 
It was obeyed almost literally; each man felt that his personal honor 
and the good name of Lee and his country were involved in it, and 
the public sentiment of the army frowned down any effort at dis- 

But in contemplation of Lee I forget myself and my task. I 
cannot paint the portrait, I must leave that to other and better 
artists. It has been done and will be done again. I have seen him 
in the storm of battle, in the hour of victory, when a nation sung 
his praises, and in the day of defeat, when no man blamed. I have 
seen him in the last days of the Confederacy when his grand army, 
the victors in so many battles, diminished in numbers, despondent in 
spirits and almost without hope, was in a steady and constant process 
of disintegration, night after night, hundreds of the best men would 
desert because they believed the cause was hopeless, and I have con- 
ferred with him as to the remedy. In all this he was the same quiet 
dignified, lofty, imperturbable self sacrificing soldier, without an 
enemy, without a rival. In all that illustrious army of Confederate 
officers — who in love of country and proud ambition carved their 
names in deathless deeds upon the escutheon of the Confederacy — 
there was not one that envied Lee, not one that would have detracted 
the tithe of a hair from his fame. Whoever was second in this war, 
Robert B. Lee was and is and ever will be, by universal consent of 
soldiers, civilians at home and abroad, without a peer. 

The same order, as we have seen, that removed McClellan ap- 
pointed Gen'l Burnside commander of the Army of the Potomac. He 
had the greatest admiration for McClellan, and assumed a command 
which he had before declined with reluctance and distrust of his 
abilities. He was a good man, a good soldier, but without genius. 

His plan of the coming campaign, in his own language, was that he 
would march upon Richmond via Fredericksburg, cross the river 
promptly, and take possession of the heights south of Fredericks- 
burg, which were afterwards held by the Confederates, before Lee 
could possibly concentrate his forces to interfere with the crossing, 
or check his onward march after he crossed to Richmond. He was 
prevented by the delay in his pontoons to reach him. A council of 
war was then held as to where the army should cross. It was first 
determined to cross at Skinker's Neck, about twelve miles below 
Fredericksburg, but the demonstration in that direction concentrated 
the Confederate forces there, and that was abandoned ; he then de- 
termined to cross at Fredericksburg, first, as he said, because the 
enemy did not expect it — next, because he felt that this was the 
place to fight the most decisive battle, because if he divided their 
forces by piercing their line at one or two points, separating the 
wings, then a vigorous attack with the whole army would break 
them in pieces. This plan was submitted to the President and ap- 
proved by him. It was opposed by Halleck at first, but he became 
acquiescent, and it was adopted. 

Sumner's command reached Falmouth, on the north side of the 
river, and a little above Fredericksburg, on the 17th of November, 
1862, On the next day General Franklin placed his whole com- 
mand at Stafford Court-house, ten miles northeast of Fredericksburg, 
near Acquia Creek, a tributary of the Potomac. General Hooker's 
command was concentrated at Hartwood, about ten miles northwest 
of Fredericksburg, on the 19th. The cavalry were in the rear, 
covering the fords of the Rappahannock higher up the stream. On 
the 15th of November Lee sent a Mississippi regiment of infantry 
and Lewis' light battery to reinforce the small garrison at Fred- 
ericksburg, consisting at that time of the Fifteenth Virginia Cavalry, 
under Col. Ball. On the 17th, the day that Sumner arrived, the Con-, 
federate chieftain, ever vigilant, sent Longstreet, with McLaws and 
Ransom's divisions of infantry, W. H. F. Lee's cavalry, and Lane's 
rifle battery, to the town, which they reached on the 20th following. 
Up to this time everything pointed to Fredericksburg as the place 
for the concentration of the Federal troops ; but Lee, anxious to re- 
move all doubt, and to make no mistake, directed Stewart to cross 
the Rappahannock. This he did, in the face of the enemy, on the 
morning of the 18th, and reached Warrenton just after the departure 
of the enemy's column. 

The information thus gained confirmed all the previous indica- 
tions that General Burnside was moving on Fredericksburg. On the 
morning of the 19th the remainder of Longstreet's corps marched 
for that point. As we have already seen, the advance of Sumner 
reached Falmouth on the 17th, and made an effort to cross the river, 
according to report, of General Lee, but was driven back by 
Colonel Ball with the Fifteenth Virginia Cavalry, four companies of 
Mississippi infantry, and Lewis' Light Battery. This is denied by 
Lossmg in a note to his history of' the civil war, in which he inti- 


mates that General Lee intentionally misrepresented the facts. The 
point is not very material, and will not add to or detract much from 
either side. The mistake, if mistake it be, is sufficiently explained 
in the attack made by Sumner's artillery on his arrival upon the 
Confederates on the south side of the river. This assault was made 
for some purpose, and it is not easy to see the purpose, unless it was 
in accord with Burnside's declared plan of crossing the river promptly 
and taking possession of the hills south of Fredericksburg while he 
was able. This view is confirmed by the facts, as conceded, that 
Sumner himself wished to cross, and was only prevented, as is 
alleged, by the order of Burnside. It does not definitely appear, as- 
suming he had such an order, when it was given, whether before or 
after his attack. If before, then his conduct, if not in disobedience 
of the spirit of the order, was wanton and without an object ; if after, 
then it would seem he was preparing to cross and do what it was 
understood General Burnside expected to clo ; but finding more troops 
and a more vigorous resistance than he expected, he held the north 
bank of the river until further communication with the command- 
ing general. 

A correspondent of the Philadelphia Enquirer, writing from Fal- 
mouth on the 18th of November, 1862, says that "five Mississippi 
regiments and Major Crutch field's rebel cavalry brigade, it is re- 
ported on good authority, are here to dispute our crossing.' 1 Again, 
he says, "the rebels on yesterday destroyed a scow in the river to 
prevent our crossing ;" nor does he anywhere intimate that the cross- 
ing was delayed for a moment. All these circumstances together 
justify the conclusion that the Confederates expected them to cross, 
that they were there to cross, and would have crossed but for the 
vigorous resistance offered. This correspondent of the Enquirer evi- 
dently believed it, the Confederate commander believed it, and 
doubtless so reported it to General Lee. However the facts may be, 
'there is no man on either side with any knowledge of the history of 
the war and its leaders who, with a proper self-respect, will iutimate 
that General Lee had for any purpose intentionally uttered an un- 
truth. (Page 198, Rebellion Record, vol. 5, 1862-1863.) 

The question arises, Why did not Sumner cross? Lee himself 
admits that he could not prevent it finally, except at too great a sac- 
rifice, and his only object was to delay it until his troops could be 
concentrated. That concentration must take place on the heights 
south of Fredericksburg, and when once occupied by Lee's whole 
force, it would be almost impossible to dislodge him. Why, then, 
did not General Burnside cross when it was practicable and seize 
these heights? The question is more easily asked than answered, 
and, I imagine, can't be answered satisfactorily upon any correct 
military principle. 

Oh the 21st, Sumner summoned the corporate authorities of Fred- 
ericksburg to surrender by 5 p. m., and threatened, in case of refusal 


to bombard the city at 9 o'clock next morning. A storm was raging 
at the time of the summons. The same correspondent of the Phila- 
delphia Enquirer says : " on the 18th very few men are to be seen in 
the city, but there are an abundance of women and children, and that 
during the silencing of the Confederate batteries on the 17th, the ut- 
most consternation prevailed among the inhabitants. The children 
seemed very much frightened." ISTo power on the Confederate side 
could prevent the execution of Sumner's threatened bombardment ; 
the city was exposed to the guns off Stafford's v Heights, and these 
were beyond the reach of the Confederate batteries. General Lee 
informed the city authorities, while he would not occupy the place 
for military purposes, he would not allow the enemy to do so, and 
directed them to remove the women and children as rapidly as possi- 
ble. The bombardment did not take place — it is to be regretted that 
the threat, under all the circumstances, was ever made. In view of 
the threatened collision between the two armies, General Lee advised 
the evacuation of the city, and nearly the entire population left, and r 
as General Lee in his reports says, without a murmur. This was but 
another evidence of the high devotion of the people of. the South to 
their cause, and though the blows fell most frequently, and the loss 
more heavily upon Virginia, because she was the battle-ground, yet 
all the States showed the same endurance and determination, and the 
people everywhere manifested a spirit of devotion and sacrifice which 
said to the world, our cause is holy, and its objects priceless. I wit- 
nessed, in part, the evacuation of Fredericksburg; I know something 
of the sufferings and heroism of that devoted people. It was a sad 
spectacle; the weather was inclement, the ground was frozen, women 
and children, the aged, infirm, sick and destitute, without food and 
thinly clad, without homes or shelter, formed in the mournful pro- 
cession that went out from Fredericksburg; to seek food they knew 
not where, to find shelter nowhere save under heaven's canopy. 
Mothers could be seen with one child at the breast, while others fol- 
lowed, led with naked feet upon the frozen ground. Their husbands, 
fathers, brothers and sons were in battle array and could not help 
them. It was a sad, sad picture, and told of the horrors of war, and 
will tell to the latest generation what the Confederate women and 
non-combatants did and were ready to suffer for their countr}^. There 
were no murmurs, no protest, but many a God bless you, from suffer- 
ing and pallid lips, greeted the soldiers as they passed, and as we 
well knew, many a silent prayer went up from pious hearts to the 
God of battles to protect their countrymen, to drive back the ruthless 
invaders, and again restore their husbands, sons and brothers to their 
homes and loved ones. Such women, if necessary to the cause, would 
themselves have lighted the brands to reduce to ashes their homes, 
and the brave soldier boys who witnessed their devotion, then and 
there determined to hurl back, with God's blessing, the foe or die. 
That prayer was answered ; thousands of the enemy bit the dust to 
rise no more ; thousands lived in agony and pain, and the remainder 
were driven back weary, wounded and sore, to the shelter of their 


guns on the north side of the Rappahannock. Wherever patriotism 
is honored, and heroism admired, let this be told in memory of the 
women of Fredericksburg. There should be in the old town, on the 
banks of the Rappahannock, a plain white marble monument to the 
memory of these brave women, and upon this let there be inscribed, 
the memorable words of Lee : " History presents no instance of a 
people exhibiting a purer and more unselfish patriotism ; they cheer- 
fully incurred great hardship and privations, and surrendered their 
homes and property to destruction, rather than yield them into the 
hands of their enemies." I saw Fredericksburg afterwards; the city 
was sacked and many a home was in ashes; some of these women 
were there, and as they sat among its rums as it were, in the very 
ashes of their desolation, they thanked God for their victory. When 
Burnside's army first began to move, Jackson, in pursuance of his in- 
structions, crossed the Blue Ridge and placed himself near Orange 
Court House, to enable him more promptly to co-operate with Long- 
street. Lee always had his troops well in hand, and seldom, if ever, 
made a mistake. Sometimes they were a little slow in their move- 
ments, but the fault was not his. He had time, place and circum- 
stances well considered, and one move followed another as effect fol- 
lowed cause. He had no haphazard campaigns, no accidents, all 
was methodically and regularly done. 

It has been said that the distance between Longstreet, at Culpepper, 
and Jackson, in the valley, was too great and that McClellan could 
have crushed either one or the other, but with such an army as Lee 
had — always greatly inferior in numbers to the adversary — he was 
obliged to risk much. His enterprise and success under disadvan- 
tages, showed his genius, and in this as in all cases, he had considered 
all the chances and made the right provision, and hence, Jackson 
was at the right spot at the right time. Longstreet's corps was on 
the left. The range of hills left the river about 550 yards above 
Fredericksburg; Anderson's division rested on the river, and those 
of McLaws, Hood and Pickett on his right, in the order named. 
Ransom's division supported the batteries on Marye's, Willis' Hills, 
at the foot of which, Cobb's brigade of McLaws' division, and the 
24th N. C. of Ransom's brigade were stationed, protected by a stone 
wall. The immediate care of this part of line was committed to 
Gen. Ransom. 

The Washington artillery, under Col. Walton, were posted on the 
crest of Marye's hill, and the heights to the right and left were held 
by part of the reserve artillery. Col. E. P. Alexander's battalion 
and the division batteries of Anderson, Ransom and McLaws, A. P. 
Hill, of Jackson's corps, was in position between Hood's right and 
Hamilton's crossing, on the railroad. The brigades of Pender, Lane 
and Archer, in front line, occupied the edge of the woods. Lieuten- 
ant-Colonel Walker, with fourteen pieces of artillery, was posted 
near the right, supported by the 35th and 40th Virginia regiments 
of Field's brigade, under Col. Brockenbrough. Lane's brigade was 
in advance of the generai line, and held the woods which here pro- 


jected into the open ground. Thomas' brigade was stationed behind, 
the interval between Lane and Pender and Gregg in rear of that, 
between Lane and Archer. These two brigades, with the 47th Vir- 
ginia regiment and 22d Virginia battalion of Field's brigade, con- 
stituted Hill's reserve. Early and Talliaferro composed Jackson's 
second line, D. H. Kill his reserve. His artillery was posted along 
the line, so as to command the open ground in front. Gen. Stewart, 
with his brigade of cavalry and his horse artillery, occupied the plain 
on Jackson's right, extending to Massaponax creek. 

About 2 a. m., on the 11th of December, the Federals commenced 
preparation to throw their bridges across the river, opposite Fred- 
ericksburg, and about a mile and a quarter below the mouth of Deep 
Eun. For sixteen hours Barksdale, with two Mississippi regiments, 17 
and 18, assisted by the 8th Florida of Anderson's division, repelled 
all efforts of Burnside to lay his bridges; two northern regiments 
were reported to have lost, in the effort, 150 men; in a few minutes 
150 pieces of artillery opened upon the town; this did not drive the 
brave Mississippians from their positions nor accomplish their pur- 
pose of laying the bridges. The bombardment was unnecessary and 
useless. Barksdale was finally withdrawn at the proper time, and 
three regiments were thrown across into the town, and the bridges 
were laid. On the 11th of December the entire army had crossed 
except Hooker's 5th corps. Lee was in a strong position on a ridge 
that ran from the river, diminishing in height to near Hamilton's 
crossing, and there held the wooded heights in front of the railroad. 
On the morning of the 13th the two armies confronted each other; a 
heavy fog enveloped the field; neither army was visible to the other; 
a hemisphere hung in breathless suspense upon the result; on the 
one side it was a war of conquest for the sake, as was alleged, of the 
Union; on the other it was a war in defence of homes, altars and 
firesides, in defence of the constitution, the keystone of the Union, 
which guaranteed the equality of States and the protection of private 

On the Federal side, according to their own estimate, there were 
118,000 men who answered at roll-call on the morning of the 13th of 
December as present for duty. On the southern side the whole force, 
according to the most reliable statements, did not exceed 78,228 
men. On the left, Gen. Franklin had under him more than half of 
Burnside's entire army. On the right, at and near Fredericksburg, 
Gen. Sumner had the remainder, except Hooker's 5th corps, which 
was held in reserve on the north bank of the river to support the 
right or left, and to press in case either command succeeded. Not- 
withstanding the advantages of position on the side of the south, the 
great disparity of forces in favor of the north made the conflict 
doubtful. Gen. Lee, in view of this, had authorized all* the archives 
and valuables at Richmond of the Confederacy to be packed and in 
readiness for removal. The sun, as it were, veiled its face as if to 
shut out the slaughter and carnage which was soon to commence 
between brethren of the same race and the same country. The bat- 


teries from Stafford's Heights early in the day opened on Long- 
street's position. About nine o'clock, or a little after, the fog partly 
lifted in the valley, and dense masses are seen moving in line of 
battle against A. P. Hill, of Jackson's corps. This force, under 
Meade, consisted of his division, Gibbons on his right with Double- 
dav in reserve. The young and gallant Pelham, of Stuart's horse 
artillery, with one section opened an enfilade fire upon the line which 
arrested its progress. Four batteries were turned upon him besides 
two others from Stafford's hills. For hours not less than thirty 
Federal cannon strove to silence him, but strove in vain. Never 
before was his skill and daring more conspicuous than to-day. Gen. 
Lee exclaimed, "it is inspiring to see such glorious courage in one 
so young." 

General Jackson said with a Pelham on either flank, I could van- 
quish the world. He afterwards gave up his young life at the battle 
of Kellysville, near Culpepper Court House, at the age of 22, then in 
command of all the horse artillery. No more need be said. Lee and 
Jackson have written his history, and it lives forever. He was with- 
drawn by Stuart. The enemy extended his left down the Port Eoyal 
road, and all his butteries with vigor opened upon Jackson's line, 
eliciting no response. Meade with his infantry moved forward, 
joined battle all along the line, and attempted to seize position occu- 
pied by Lt-Col. Walker. Walker reserved his fire until they had ap- 
proached within less than 800 yards, and then opened fire with 
such destructive effect as to cause them to break and retreat in con- 
fusion. At 1 o'clock, p. m., the main attack on the right was made 
by a heavy cannoade, under cover of which three compact lines of 
infantry advanced against Hill's front. Archer and Lane received this 
attack. The work w as fierce and bloody, and the portion of the 
enemy's line in their front met a bloody repulse, but by some mis- 
chance, which has never been explained, there was an interval of about 
600 yards between the right of Lane and the left of Archer. When 
Lane was assigned his position, which was some distance in front of 
Gen. Hill's first line, as occupied by Pender's brigade, and in front of 
several batteries, he soon discovered this interval, and knowing its 
danger, used his best efforts to have it closed, but in the confusion of 
the coming battle, it was omitted. The enemy, with nine regiments, 
pierced this interval to Lane's right, while a heavy force advanced to 
attack in his front. Thus assaulted in from and in flank, this gallant 
brigade of North Carolinians nobly maintained their ground, until the 
two regiments 28th and 37tb, had not only exhausted their ammuni- 
tion, but such as could be obtained from their dead and wounded 
comrades, collected and handed them by their officers; when these 
two regiments had ceased firing for want of ammunition, the enemy 
in column doubled on the center, bore clown in mass upon the brigade 
and it was forced to fall back, but did so in good order. Gen. Thomas 
with his gallant Georgia brigade came to Lane's assistance, and with 
the aid of the 18th and 7th regiments of Lane's on his left drove back 
the enemy and chased him to his original position. It has been said 


that this temporary success of the enemy was induced 03^ the giving 
away in Lane's brigade of a regiment of North Carolina conscripts. 
This is untrue. There were no conscript regiments as such, and no 
troops could have behaved more gallantly, under the circumstances 
than those attached to these regiments; Gen. Lee recognizes their 
gallantry in his report, when he says that attacked in front and flank, 
after a brave and obstinate resistance, the brigade gave way. Gen. 
Lane says, of his conscripts, "I cannot refrain from making special allu- 
sion to our conscripts, many of whom were under fire for the first time. 
They proved themselves v\ orthy of a brigade that had borne itself well 
in all the battles of the last eight months, from Fredericksburg to 
Petersburg." In the meantime a large force had penetrated the in- 
terval as far as Hill's reserve, and encountered Gregg's brigade. The 
attack was sudden and unexpected, and mistaking the enemy for our 
own troops, Orr's rifles of this brigade were thrown into momentary 
confusion, and Gen. Gregg, while attempting to rally them, fell mort- 
ally wounded. 

Hon. Wm. C. Oates, 3d Alabama District, then a captain, after- 
wards a colonel of the 15th Alabama, which, with the 12th and. 21st 
Georgia and 21st North Carolina, formed Trimble's brigade, then 
commanded by Col. Eobt. F. Hoke, told me that when' this brigade, 
the 22d and 47th Virginia regiments of Col. Brockenborough's com- 
mand, and two others, Lawton, under Atkinson, and Early under 
Walker, all of Early's division rushed with a yell upon the enemy, as 
they advanced he saw Gen. Gregg, and as they swept by him, driving 
the enemy before them, the old hero, unable to speak, unable to 
stand alone, raised himself to his full height by a small tree, and, 
with cap in hand, waived them forward. It seemed that he had 
heard them as he lay mortally wounded and speechless, and as the 
fires of his patriotism dying out with the wasting energies of life were 
rekindled by the shouts of his comrades, he raised himself, cheered 
them on and died. Wolf, when told, as he lay wounded and dying, 
that the enemy fled, said, " I die contented." Gregg, with the rebel 
shout in his ears, which told him that a disaster had been converted 
into a victory, died in exultation. 

This brigade, led by the dashing Hoke, seconded by the gallant Oats, 
who afterwards lost his arm before Richmond, swept everything be- 
fore them, and as the Federals ran and massed in front of the 21st 
N. C, the "Tar Heels," says Col. Oats, mowed them clown in files, 
and that charge made Hoke brigadier general, though it nearly cost 
him his life. His horse was stricken down by a shell, this threw Hoke, 
leaving o;je foot in the stirrup. The horse recovered and ran, drag- 
ging him some distance, until he was rescued by Col. Oats and his 

Gregg's brigade, consisting of four regiments and one company of 
rifles, were under Col. Hamilton, and joined in the repulse of 
the enemy. Lawton's brigade, under Col. Atkinson, first encoun- 
tered the enemy, followed on the right and left by Trimble and Moke 
and Earlv under Col. Walker. Talliofero's division moved forward at 


the same time on Early's left, and his right regiment, the 2d Ya., 
belonging to Paxton's brigade, joined in the attack. The enemy was 
pressed back to the line of the railroad embankment. They were 
here reinforced by Gibbons and Doubleday, but Hoke and Atkinson 
charged again and drove them back across the plains to their guns, 
inflicting great slaughter and capturing many prisoners. In this 
charge Col. Atkinson was severely wounded, and Capt. Lawton, the 
brigade adjutant, mortally wounded while gallantly leading his bri- 
gade. The attack on Hill's left was repulsed by the artillery on that 
part of the line which, in its turn, was assaulted by a furious can- 
nonade from 24 guns. One brigade of the enemy moved up Deep 
Eun, sheltered by its banks from our batteries, and surprised the 
flank of Pinder's picket line, capturing an officer and 15 men of the 
16th North Carolina regiment, but it was charged by the 16th N. 
C, of Pender's brigade, under the gallant Col. McElroy, 57th 1ST. C, 
under Col. Godwin, and 51th IST. C, under Col. McDowell, of Hood's 
division, and driven back, the 57th leading and the others following 
in support. These two last regiments were under fire for the first 
time. The repulse on the right was decisive, and was not renewed, 
but the batteries and the sharpshooters kept up a brisk firing at inter- 
vals during the whole evening. Pender's brigade was placed in po- 
sition on Friday morning early, on the extreme left of the division, 
where they had no shelter, not a log, or a tree, or an embankment, 
from the artillery of the enemy. Friday was taken up by skirmish- 
ing, and now and then a slight artillery duel. 

There is no severer test of the metal of troops than to be placed 
thus under a hot and deadly fire without protection and in a state of 
inaction. On Saturday, from early morn until late in the evening, 
this brigade had been exposed to a most destructive fire of shell, 
solid shot, and musketry. The artillery fire, at many times during 
the day, exceeded anything I ever saw, unless, perhaps, at Malvern 
Hill and Gettysburg ; a spectator of the scene has, in words beyond 
my power, described it : '"Such a scene at once terrific and sublime, 
mortal eye never rested upon before^ unless it be the bombardment of 
Sebastopol by the combined batteries of France and England; never 
was there a more fearful manifestation of the hate and fury of man. 
The roar of hundreds of pieces of artillery, the bright jets of issuing 
flame, the screaming, hissing, shrieking projectiles, the wreaths of 
smoke as shell after shell burst into the still air, the savage crash of 
shattered forest, formed a scene likely to sink forever into the mem- 
ory of all who witnessed ii, but utterly defying verbal delineation. A 
direct and infakling fire swept each battery upon either side, as it 
was unmasked volley replied to volley, crash succeeded crash until the 
eye lost all power of distinguishing the lines of combatants, and the 
plain seemed a lake of fire, a seething lake of molten lead covered 
■over by incarnate fiends drunk with fury and revenge." Solid shot, 
partly spent, rolled in our front and across the line, to our rear in 
great numbers, reminding one of the incessant action of balls on a 
billiard table when' handled by a skillful player. Added to this was 


the incessant annoyance from the enemy's skirmishers. Pender sent 
out a few companies under Captain Cole to drive them back, and 
protect the batteries, which he did with great gallantry. Daring the 
evening General Pender was wounded by a spent ball, and was forced 
to retire to the hospital; the command of thebrigade devolved upon me 
in his abscence, and that of the regiment upon Colonel Jesoph Hy- 
rnan; but he returned as soon as his wounds were dressed, and at his 
request I aided him in command of the brigade during the balance of 
the day. During the evening Lieutenant Sheppard, the aid of Pender, 
was- killed while gallantly endeavoring to rally some troops, not our 
own, on our right (who had broken). A son of the Hon. A. H. Shep- 
pard, for many years a distinguished member of Congress from North 
Carolina; his death was worthy of his parentage, worthy of a soldier, 
and worthy of the cause. General Pender was a West Point graduate, 
was among the first to resign after the secession of North Carolina, 
and offered his services to his State. He was very soon made Colonel 
of the 3rd, afterwards known as the 13th North Carolina, regiment. 
He was a werj young man and yet had under him prominent and 
influential civilians, who were used to command and unused to obey, 
and restive and rebellious against military rule, and yet in two months 
or less time, he had of it one of the best drilled, best disciplined and 
most efficient regiments of the service. Such merit could notbe long 
concealed, and he was soon promoted to the colonelcy of a war regi- 
ment, and went immediately into active service in the field. He was 
promoted for gallantry and skill on the field to brigadier, and then 
to a major-general in less time than twelve months. His last pro- 
motion was at the battle of Chancellorville. He was wounded at 
Gettysburg, by the cap of a shell, in the thigh. We went to Staunton 
together, both wounded, in his ambulance ; he suffered intensely on 
the way. We parted at Staunton to meet no more. His physician 
advised amputation; he sunk under the operation, and died, and thus 
fell one of the brightest, if not the most promising young officer of 
the Confederate Army. He was young and handsome, brave and 
skillful, prompt to decide and yet when decided, more prompt to 
execute. He was known, admired and trusted by his superior 
officers, beyond any of his age in the service; he was adored by his 
troops, and next to Jackson, there was perhaps no greater loss to the- 
Army of Northern Virginia. The higher his promotion, the better 
fitted he seemed for his position; he was my comrade, my commander, 
my intimate personal friend. I must even here pause to render this 
feeble tribute to his memory and drop a tear on his untimely death. 
As we have already shown Longstreet's corps occupied the left of 
the Confederate line in the order mentioned. About 11 o'clock a. m., 
French, having massed his troops under cover of the houses in Fred- 
ericksburg, moved forward to seize Marye's and Willis' Heights. 
General Ransom, who was in immediate charge of this part of these 
hills, ordered Cooke's North Carolina brigade to occupy the crest, 
which they did in fine style. He placed his own, except the 24th North 
Carolina, a short distance in the rear. The 24th North Carolina was 


in the diteh on the left, and on a prolongation of line occupied by 
Cobb's brigade, which occupied the telegraph road in front of the 
crests protected by a stone wall. The artillery on Staffords Heights 
opened apon our batteries to protect the advance of their infantry. 
Our batteries could not reach them efficiently, and therefore were 
directed solely against the heavy lines of infantry as they advanced 
to the attack. They were driven back with great slaughter by the 
Washington artillery, and a well directed fire from Cobb's and Cook's 
brigades. Their loss was scarcely less than fifty per cent. Hancock, 
with his division resumed the attack and was driven back with a loss 
of 2,013 out of 5,600 men, in the wildest confusion, by the same bri- 
gades. In this attack two regiments of Cook's brigade, the 46th under 
Colonel Hall, and the 27th, were badly exposed and suffered much as 
they were thrown into the road on a prolongation of Cobb's brigade, 
without rifle pits or any protection. 

According to General Eansom, it was in this third assault that 
General Thomas R. Cobb, a distinguished civilian, statesman and sol- 
dier, was killed at the head of his troops, and at the same instant 
Brigadier-General Cooke was seriously wounded and taken from the 
field. Upon the death of General Cobb, which was universally 

1 lamented throughout the Confederacy, General Kershaw was ordered 
to re-inforce General Eansom, which he did with two regiments, 2nd 
South Carolina, Colonel Kennedy, and 85th Calvary, Captain Stark- 

„ house, numbering about 700 men, and took command of the position 
in the telegraph road. Again, did the troops under Sturgis and 
Getty, of the 9th Corps, renew the assault ; but with the fresh 
troops by which Ransom had been re-inforced, they were literally, 
says General Ransom, swept from the earth. The enemy, still not 
satisfied, with a pluck and desperation worthy of a better fate, gathered 
up the scattered fragments of the five divisions that had, each in his 
turn, been repulsed, made yet another assault; this, too, like all the 
others, melted away before the pitiless storm of musketry and artil- 
lery, which poured out its fury from the stone wall and the crest of 
Marye's Heights. 

Kemper was ordered to report to General Ransom, and re-inforced 
him with two of his regiments, including the 24th North Carolina. 
The Washington Artillery, under Colonel Walton, who had done 
splendid service and suffered much, was here relieved by a portion of 
Alexander's Battalion. Burnside, receiving the particulars of this last 
repulse, ordered General Hooker to cross the river with the 5th corps 
which had been, up to this time, in reserve, and " take the crest." 
Night approached ; Hooker had learned the result of all the assaults 
so far, and endeavored to dissuade Burnside from it ; but he was now 
desperate and obstinate, and insisted upon the order. Humphrey's 
division was selected for the sacrifice, and as a preparation for the ad- 
vance a heavy cannonade was ordered upon our lines, and continued 
with great fury until after sundown. The division then moved forward,, 
apparently relying upon the bayonet ; but why waste words? It did 


not get within bayonet distance, probably not more than 80 or 100 
yards; the repulse was overwhelming; out of 4,000 men they lost 

Here fought Eansom, Cooke, Kershaw, Cobb, Kemper, Colonel 
Alexander, Colonel Walton, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, 
Virginia and Louisiana. They stood side by side, supported and 
sustained by each other. There were no laggards, no stragglers ; 
every man was in his place, and every man a soldier ; and what was 
said of one State may be said of all who fought on the right or left 
On that memorable day. Six times did the foe, with great heroism, 
rush to the assault within 100 yards of the foot of the heights, and 
six times were they repulsed with bloody slaughter. If the battle 
raged furiously on our right, it was still more terrific and bloody on 
our left. The women and children of Fredericskburg, with all their 
sufferings, were terribly avenged, and the enemy sorely punished. 
On the 14th the Confederate troops were in line ready for the attack, 
which everything indicated would be renewed. 

The federals were also in line, but nothing was done during the 
day, save a fire at intervals from Stafford's hills on the Southern lines. 
The 15th passed in the same way. On the night of the 15th a storm 
of wind and rain raged most furiously; under cover of this, Burnside 
returned to the North side of the Eappahannock, and the battle was 
over. 118,000 Federal soldiers under fire had been actually engaged 
with the vast artillery on both sides of the river, except a part that 
could not be used, which was left in the streets of Fredericksburg. 
Lee had an army of 78,000 (according to Palfrey and Pres. Davis) of 
which only about 20,000 were engaged. The federals lost 13,77 1 in killed 
and wounded and prisoners, 9,000 stand of arms and a large quantity 
of ammunition which had been left in Fredericksburg. Gen. Lee, 
says of Cobb and Gregg, "we have again to deplore the loss of two of 
the noblest citizens, and the army of two of its bravest and most dis- 
tinguished soldiers." Gen. Burnside testified before the committee on, 
the conduct of the war, that all of his men were under artillery fire, 
and about half of them at different times were formed into columns 
of attack. His reply to the question as to the cause of his failure was: 
"It was found impossible to get the men to the works. The enemy's 
fire was toohot for them." Gen. Franklin, August 19, 1862, before the 
Senate committee said, "I fought the whole strength of my command 
asfaras possibleand at the same time keep open my connection with the 
river." This battle wag as fatal to the highest officers in command, as 
it had been to the common soldier. Franklin was relieved because 
he could not perform impossibilities. Sumner, from disgust, resigned 
and died soon afterwards at the age of 72, and Burnside, in a short time 
had to give way to Hooker, and resigned. Hooker was in his turn, 
destroyed and forced to resign after the next fight. The rage and dis- 
appointment at the North knew no bounds; it gave way after some 
days to the consoling thought that Burnside, under cover of the storm 
had escaped north side of the river, and was not annihilated. In the 


South there was unusual satisfaction, that so much had been done, 
tinged with a color of disappointment that the victory had not been 
more fruitful. 

On the eve of the memorable 13th, as heretofore mentioned, 
just before dusk, I was with Gen. Pender, at his request, assisting in the 
command of his brigade. The firing had ceased, the work of the day, 
whether good or bad had been done. The soldiers were eating their 
evening meal in contemplation of rest and sleep so necessary and 
sweet to the soldier, after two days of intense excitement and watch- 
fulness, exposure and severe conflict. A courier rode up and handed 
to Gen. Pender an order from Gen. Jackson through A. P. Hill. He 
read and re-read it, with a grave and anxious face, and handed it to 
me. It was in substance to hold his brigade in readiness to advance 
at near dusk, (naming the hour), in connection with the whole line 
upon the enemy. This order was issued, and though there was some 
disappointment manifested, there was no grumbling among the troops, 
but all prepared with alacrity for the movement. Pender and I dis- 
cussed the order, — he in the light of his milita^ education, and I in 
the light of its common sense and practicability. We both agreed 
that the order was injudicious and hazardous. In an hour it was 
countermanded and we slept. It has been said time and again, that 
such a movement on the night of the 13th or on the 14th should have 
been made, This is not justified by the facts or circumstances in the 
case. Lee had but one army and if lost could not be replaced ; a night 
attack wat, most hazardous ; confusion and uncertainty would inevi- 
tably attend it, and the result might be disastrous. What had been 
done, had been done at so little loss to us, that we cnuld form no idea of 
the damage, immense though it was to the enemy. There were at least 
in our front 100,000 men, and at least 200 pieces of artillery, and most 
of them on Stafford's heights on the North side of the river beyond 
the reach of our guns. We did not know that so many of their troops 
had been actually engaged or the extent of their demoralization. 
The Federal government had determined upon a vigorous campaign 
against Richmond. There was murmuring by reason of the many 
disastrous failures, and their people demanded it. To this end Mc- 
Clellan, who was regarded as too slow, was removed and Burnside 
substituted. These facts, together with many other circumstances 
indicated that the onward movement would not be abandoned, and 
that the attack would be renewed. Lee's position was almost impreg- 
nable, an assault by the Federals on the 14th, similar to the one of 
the loth promised well for the destruction of their army with com- 
paratively little damage to us. Gen. Lee wisely determined to await 
further developments. On the night of the 13th, General Longstreet's 
line was strengthened by works and re-inforced by troops in front, so 
that by next morning he says that he could have beaten back the 
world if attacked over the same ground. There were changes made 
also in Jackson's line, and the weaker parts re-inforced. By 10 o'clock 
on the 14th, Gen. Longstreet, in a letter written at my request, says 



that it became evident that the attack would not be renewed by 
Burnside, and that Gen. Lee himself then considered the question of 
making an assault. 

The attack was not made and the entire army, so far as I am advised, 
at the time endorsed General Lee's action. Afier the enemy had retired 
from our front and sheltered themselves at the river an attack on 
our part would have renewed the fight of the 18th with the positions 
of the two armies reversed, and the chances greatly in favor of the 
Federals. General Jackson as shown by the above mentioned order 
determined on the evening of the 18th to make a forward movement, 
and to make it at a late hour, so that if it failed he should be able 
under cover of the night to withdraw his troops. This movement 
was attempted on a pari: of his line, and was placed in charge of 
General Early; but as Jackson says. himself in his report, the first gun 
had hardly moved forward from the woods a hunnred yards, when 
the enemy's artillery reopened and so completely swept our front as 
to satisfy me that the proposed movement should be abandoned. 

This should settle and forever the question as to Jackson's opinion and 
action in regard to attacking and " pushing the enemy into the river." 

The troops engaged and the losses by States at Fredericksburg 
were as follows : 

North Carolina had 82 regiments; lost killed and wounded 





1 b 

attery, 1 legion 












ii ii ii 




It 11 u 

South Carolina 





1 rifles 







ti it 





u a 





tt ti 





ii it 



' 1,069 










North Carolina lost 1,521 out of 32 regiments. 

Georgia " 1,069 : ' " 28 regiments, 1 bat., 1 legion. 

All others " 1,813 " " 69 regiments, 1 rifles. 

With such victories as Fredericksburg, with those that preceded 
and those that follow, d, and so many of them, it would seem that our 
success should have been assured ; we failed. The President of the 
late Confederacy has been much censured and an effort made to throw 
a portion of the responsibility of the failure on him. I seek not to 
inflame the bitterness of the past; I enter into no personal contests; 
I know no man, and seek only to vindicate the truth of history as I 
understand it. That Mr. Davis had his faults none will deny; that 
he made mistakes all will concede. Who is so perfect as to be 
exempt from human fallibility ? But that he was justly responsible 


[, in any part for our failure, or that his administration by any act of 
commission or omission on his part hastened the catastrophe, will 
not, in my judgment, be sustained by the facts. He brought to the 
cause of the Confederacy a very high order of ability, an indomita- 
ble will, a sincere purpose, and an intense patriotism. The success 
of the cause was the great end of his administration, and to this he 
sacredly gave his talents — his strength and power. Could personal 
sacrifices have promoted it, he would have spurned the costs. Could 
death itself have accomplished it, he would at any time have gladly 
welcomed it. He may safely leave his vindication to the impar- 
tial historian. Had his cause been successful he would have ranked 
with the first patriots and the best statesmen of the world. I watched 
him during the war; when the adversities and misfortunes of our 
cause were rested upon his head ; I saw his patience and heroism ; 
though reviled and persecuted he answered not again, preferring un- 
just censure to a vindication at the expense of the harmony of the 
country. I saw him as he stood by the cause, until all else had for- 
saken it; I heard the slanders uttered by his enemies in his cap- 
ture ; I saw him in case-mate No. 2 at Fortress Monroe, when arrested 
for treason, and it was declared in all the passion and fanaticism of 
the hour, that treason must be made odious; I saw him torn inhu- 
manly from wife and child, and denied even the privilege of corres- 
pondence ; I saw him, when to heap indignity upon cruelty, they 
outraged the civilization of the times by putting him in chains, 
though so enfeebled by age and disease as to make his escape impos- 
sible ; I heard his cry of jjain and indignation when, in the name of 
national humanity and national honor, he protested against the 
wicked outrage ; I felt the sympathy of his surgeon as he witnessed 
the crying shame and disgrace, and heard him saying : "that it was 
a trial more severe than had ever been inflicted in modern times 
upon one who had enjoyed such eminence." He was but the vicar- 
ious sufferer for the people he loved and had so faithfully served. 

I have seen him since, an unpardoned rebel, > without the privileges 
of the humblest citizen, in a land he had illustriously served as a 
statesman and heroically defended as a soldier with his blood. In all 
this there was no manifestation of weakness, no retraction of prin- 
ciple, no surrender of manhood. Eighteen years of disability and 
isolation have passed. He is now an old man, and stands upon the 
verge of the grave, and will die as he has lived, a patriot and 
hero. Grand old man. Grander' still in the disabilities and isola- 
tion, which environ you in the land you love twenty millions of hearts 
to-day invoke upon you and yours heaven's richest blessings, and 
generations yet unborn will be taught to cherish thy memory. 

No, we were overwhelmed by numbers. The contest degenerated 
into a war of friction and waste. They could lose two to one and yet 
be greatly superior to us in numbers. Theimmagrants from the Old 
World, in countless numbers, were rushed to the front to supply 
the places made vacant by wounds, desertion and death. 


Grant, in his campaign, but continued the policy inaugurated early 
in the war, of accomplishing, by a wearing-out process, what he could 
not accomplish by skill or prowess. We yielded to overwhelming 
numbers; we iell commanding the respect of our enemies and the 
admiration of the balance of mankind. ^ Eichmond was the objective 
point of every movement. For this Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, 
and all the battles of the Army of the Potomac were fought. For 
this Sherman marched through Georgia to the sea, leaving in his 
wakeburning cities, ruined homes, and a desolate land. Eichmond 
was the object. Virginia, for the most pkrt, was the battle- 
ground. She bared her bosom to the storm, and for four long years 
breasted its fury, yet she faltered not; u but by her example proved 
that though her soil might be overrun, the spirit of her people 
was invincible." She lost nothing of her ancient renown. She gave 
Washington and Lee to the first Ee volution. She gave seven Presi- 
dents to the Union. She gave Scott and Taylor to the Mexican war. 
and she gave Lee and Jackson, Ewell, Stewart, and A. P. Hill, among 
the dead, and Joe Johnston and Jubal Early, and a host of others, among 
the living, to the Confederacy. She gave, in the day of her wealth 
and power, an empire to the National Government, and in the day of 
her exhaustion and weakness, by the action of the same govern- 
ment, her territory was forcibly divided and a State carved out of it. 
But she still lives, and is to-day an empire within herself, the 
mother of heroes and States and statesmen as well, the admiration 
of her sister States and the pride of her own people. God bless the 
noble old commonwealth ! Eichmond fell, then fell Virginia, and 
then the Confederacy. 

My comrades nearly eighteen years have passed since peace was 
declared. Of those who survived the war, a large number have year 
by year fallen into their graves, year by year time is tracing its in- 
delible impressions upon us all. Many have grown gray, all of us 
fallen into the sere and yellow leaf, and we too must soon go the way 
of all the earth. While we live to us is committed the sacred duty 
of keeping green the graves, and to preserve imsullied the memories 
of the dead. While one of us may remain, let him, if need be, like old 
mortality, devote himself to the pious task of renewing and preserv- 
ing the records and chiselling deeper in the marble, inscriptions that 
tell of deeds that must not die, and let me urge you if it be necssary 
to this end to teach your children the names of the battles, the names 
of the heroes, as far as it can be done, and the graves of the unknown 
martyrs. Let them take up the sacred task where we leave it, and 
let them so teach their children and children's children to the latest 

Let Yankee doodle and Dixie stand side by side; they were both 
inspired by the love of liberty. Let Manassas, Fredericksburg, Chan- 
cellorsville, King's Mountain and Yorktown live on the same sacred 
page o our history, for they were alike, struggles in the cause of 
freedom, and the rights of men. We were unsuccessful, that proves 



nothing as to the right; the principle is unchanged, impartial history 
will vindicate us, and to that tribunal we commit the lost cause. 

There is no conflict in all this with our duty to the Union. It is 
the duty of every citizen to honor it in peace and defend it in war, 
and I am sure none will respond to these duties of the citizen with 
more alacrity or faithfulness than the battle scarred veterans who 
followed Lee and Jackson, and their descendants.